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Author Topic: $2,500 Vocal Mic  (Read 6583 times)

Offline James Duncan

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$2,500 Vocal Mic
« on: March 19, 2005, 08:24:47 am »
Well, we've had the $1,000 mic thread, but I am in the process of getting a new vocal mic, and thought I would throw this out to the forum.

I've got about US$2,500 to spend on a nice vocal mic. I am currently using a Rode NTK as my main vocal mic. Although I love the sound of this mic, it tends towards sibilancy.

I have a lot of mics in the studio, so I am looking for predominantly a vocal-only mic. I mostly do rock/pop stuff, and will be using Focusrite ISA, Great River and the Soundtracs Topaz pres.

My short list right now is:

Neumann U87
BLUE Kiwi
BLUE Bottle (I've got a line on a used on with the B6 capsule)

I am looking for rich and lush vocals, without the harshness at the top end. The NTK is just a bit too brittle.

I have looked at the Brauner stuff, and the only one in my price range is the Phantom C, which is not really a solid vocal mic. The Valvet is a bit too pricy right now.

The MT Gefell M990 looks interesting, but might be too pricy as well.

I am NOT a fan of the TLM103, so let's leave out any varients of that one (TLM127).

I wouldn't mind going tube, since I love the sound of my NTK (minus the brittleness), and have considered the Neumann M147, but have heard that it is not in the same league sound-wise as the U87 or some of the other Neumann tube mics like the M149 or M150.

The SoundDeluxe stuff looks interesting, but there are no local dealers where I can take a listen. The U195 or the iFET87 look like they might be worth a listen.

The 3D audio site and CD is obviously a worthwhile exercise, but it is really hard to tell too much without actually hearing this things live.

I have a demo set up this Wednesday night after closing at my local GC with a new U87ai and a Kiwi through a Focusrite ISA system. I am going to add an NTK and the TLM103 for comparison purposes. Someone suggested that I add an AT4060 to the audition, and I am going to look into that.

I am going to be auditioning the BLUE Bottle in my studio for a couple of days in about a week, but I may not wait for that since I have a friend who has one that I can borrow regularily. He is actually getting two, and will putting the other one up for sale.  I could get it from him at a GREAT price, but since we trade mics back-and-forth a lot, it just makes sense for me to get something different.

OK...what have I missed? What else should I be looking at? Living in Indy, it might be tough to audition some of this stuff.

Thanks in advance for the help!
James Duncan

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Offline Bob Olhsson

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2005, 09:50:50 am »
Doublehelix wrote on Sat, 19 March 2005 07:24

...Although I love the sound of this mic, it tends towards sibilancy...
This is the classic issue with cheap condensers. The other is how prone they are to "p" pops.

I haven't a clue what they cost but check out the Beyer LD condensers and also check out the brand new cheaper so-called "instrumental" version of the AKG 414. Be sure to try them without pop screens because a mike that doesn't absolutely need one can sound better naked than something that's better with the screen but absolutely needs it.

Offline hargerst

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2005, 11:16:46 am »
You might also take a look at some of the AEA ribbon mics, if you're looking for a "lush, rich, vocal sound, without the harshness at the top end".
Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Offline t(h)ik

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2005, 12:45:11 pm »
Maybe a MG M930.

Really like them.

I have a U87 ai

I guess ai stands for acoustically insulated...

I think it pales in comparison to all my MG products...

I am going to dump it on e-bay..

The only thing it does semi-well as is a tom mic...

I have not tried the M930 on female vox yet.

But it has been the pick so far on every band I have recorded (5 and counting)...

And you could buy a pair for that budget and you would have your drums taken care of...

or you could buy one and a R121 if you don't have one yet..

Hope this helps..

Lemme nough

TIK

I used to be self effacing, but I couldn't even do that right....
www.pmtstudios.com

Offline rphilbeck

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2005, 03:14:08 pm »
The U87 is a fantastic sounding mic.  They really did the midrange and the high end just right on that one.  You should definitely try it out.  You're buying from a dealer with a good return policy right?

The 4060 is nice too, but to me the high end was just a little shrill, and the low end not as full as I'd like it.  Certainly worth trying out though.  


-Robert


Offline Ryan Leigh Patterson

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2005, 11:41:51 pm »
I'm also interested in this thread.  The $1000 thread was great, but I've realized that I need to spend more to get what I need.  I've got a pair of abused 414 EBs, which will be repaired in the near future.  So I think I've got this segment covered

$2500 is the next step I guess.  I'm also thinking Blue.  I'm not crazy about the U87ai.  Seriously, when it was the only big boy on the the block, it was great, but I think that Neumann needs to re-evaluate this mic.  It sounds pretty boring to me...
103, no thanks, I want a transformer, lots of them actually.  Tube for sure, but I've only got $2500!!

Let me see what you've got !!
Ryan Patterson
Toronto, Ontario
www.myspace.com/ryanlpatterson


Offline Gone

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2005, 01:28:15 am »
You must be getting a good deal on the Bottle, don't they sell for over $4000? How about the Cactus?

A few years ago I bought a Soundelux E47 and Neumann M147. The Soundelux was great . Did it sound exactly like a U47? No. Have I ever used 2 U47s that sounded exactly like each other? No. But it's a great mic, smooth top detail, warm and round, with a little less mid grit than a U47. Very dimensional for $2750. Wasn't as good a distant mic as U47 or M147 for me. Soundelux tube mics always worth checking. U99/195, etc

The M147 is also very good, and IMO more versatile, I've used it on vocals, overheads, guitars, marimba, percussion, double bass, violin, room, etc. The M147 gets a bad rap because it isn't a U47, but we put a Rode K2 against it on vocals, and it was strictly no contest. (why are all Rode mics so BRIGHT?)

You might consider - Gefell UMT70 - though I prefer the original UM70S, the transformerless ('T') is still a good mic, and I think my UM70S blows away any U87 I've ever tried on vocals. Holds its own against my M147 too. Also, one of the Gefell cardioid-only tube mics might be in your range (UM92.1?). Very underrated and probably under-priced mics. Beat out TLM170s on sax and vocals in sessions I've done. Also versatile for ac and el guitar, overheads, snare, room...

If you want to spend $2500, bypass the 4060, 414, 103, and go to that next level. I'll throw these out as mics on my list to look at, in the same range - maybe someone else has experience with them?
- New Telefunken USA ($1399.00 mp tube mic)
- AEA mics
- I also had the Phantom C to look at...

Offline t(h)ik

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2005, 01:42:40 am »
Nick,

What did you think of the phantom...

I think it is actually too good  Confused

What did you try it on..

Also,

I don't know about the 92.1s on vox..
I used to be self effacing, but I couldn't even do that right....
www.pmtstudios.com

Offline hargerst

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2005, 09:29:44 am »
The Blues, the Brauner, and the Tele are all voiced kinda brightly, so I'm not sure what you'd gain by adding any of those to your existing mic collection.
Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Offline Gone

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2005, 09:36:22 am »
Sorry if I wasn't clear, the Phantom is on my list of mics to try (or try to try, hard to find Brauner loaners in Chi). I'm basing my interest on reviews of the KHE, many reviewers have said it's the best mic they've used...

The Gefell 92.1 is basically the tube version of the UM70, I've heard it on vox, though never used it myself. Again, it wasn't a U47, but quite solid.
I was looking at the mercenary website, and found the current list for the UM92.1 (multi-pattern) is $3500. (actual price lower). That's quite funny, as I have a 'Pro User Price List' from GPrime from 2001, which lists it at $2200.00! I guess Gefell discovered the principle that if you mark the price up, people will think it's better.

sixtiksix - I like your comment about U87 being 'okay for toms' - !
I've never met a U87 I liked much, including an SP mod.

Offline bounce

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2005, 12:06:47 pm »
hey hey hey. if you are looking for a good pairing with the isa pre, you might check out the lawson L47. i had one for a couple of years and it's a great mic but a little darker than the ntk. in defense of the ntk, i must say that i think the issue with the top end you're having with it will probably be the pairing of the ntk and the focusrite isa (maybe it's an impedence match?). i have had or used many many mics for vocals (of course as have most of us) and, since you're talking about blue, have owned 2 blue mouse mics (very cool, again very "present"), a blue dragonfly, the Lawson, various Neumanns, a couple of ntk's and a tube classic, and more and the interesting thing about the ntk is that is that out of various API's, telefunken, Vintech, Focusrite, and my soundtracs topaz pre's, it sounds most amazing with my Presonus MP20 (the one with jensen transformers) and a focusrite liquid channel (on the D.W. Fearn setting). another producer in my studio got great results on a female vocal with this config). i really love the NTK. i must say with the neve pre's, you have to wrestle the presence and sometimes sibilance on it. just a thought on trying the ntk with another pre but, hey, you can never go wrong with investing in another $2500 mic : ) i'm dying to hear the bottle or the kiwi (i LOVE blue mics) so let us know what you decide! (p.s. my mp20 was only 350 clams and i end up using it way more than i thought i would).

p.s. don't get me wrong, i really like the ISA's i think i'm gonna pick up the 428 soon
: ) just thought you might try it with another pre for other possibilities. the ntk is a beautiful thing and the k2 variable pattern is really really great- check that one out.

mckay
McKay Garner
Bounce Inventive Audio
Los Angeles

Offline mumbles

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2005, 09:48:10 am »
Hey folks.
    If it helps anyone, we just tried out a u99 and a Valvet Voice.  We also have had some experience with the m149.          
    Anyway, the Neumann and the Brauner are very bright for our tastes...  the Brauner in spades.  I could see how it could be "instant pop vocals," or if a vocalist needed LOTS of help, but, for us, it's just too much.  Over the top.  
    In the Brauner's defence, it sounded great on acoustic guitar, but we just don't need a $2,500 acoustic mic.  The neumann has found the most use in omni for room micing... however the Neumann tube in the same price range as these other mics (the m147) is cardioid only.
    The U99 was much more balanced and pleasing to our ears.  We are going to try it out against a Lawson L47 next.  Both have variable patterns, too, which is a huge plus.  It's almost like having eq built into the mic.  Our decision has been boiled down to those 2 mics for the "big expensive tube mic" category.

Seamus
Seamus
Upstate, NY

Offline hargerst

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2005, 12:04:11 pm »
It's weird, but there's a big gap between the up to $1,500 mics, and then it jumps to $3,000 plus.  The Soundelux and the Gefells are the main contenters in this range. The Soundelux U99 may be a good choice.
Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Offline James Duncan

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2005, 06:56:53 pm »
I'd really love to try the SoundDelux, Gefell and Lawson stuff, but there is no way that this is going to happen any time soon. There are just so few places in Indy to audition these types of mics, especially at the same time to give a good A/B.

I was able to audition a few mics the other day, and I must admit that the U87 sounded best to my ears so far. It really blew away the NTK in my opinion on vocals.

Right now, that is way I am leaning...there is something about having an "N" mic in the aresnal that gives instant credibility in certain circles.

Also, I agree with the comment that the U87 is similar to the SM57 in that they both are extremely versatile, and sound good on pretty much everything. There may be better mics for certain situations, but the 87 will "work" on most on most of them.

Since I am limited in my ability to buy a bunch of high-end mics, it is probably smart to invest in one that has a bit of versatility to it. Also, having 3 pickup patterns will be nice.

Like I said, I am probably going to pick up the 87...it seems like the "smart" choice for a lot of reasons.
James Duncan

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Offline hank alrich

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2005, 09:34:15 pm »
hargerst wrote on Sun, 20 March 2005 06:29

The Blues, the Brauner, and the Tele are all voiced kinda brightly, so I'm not sure what you'd gain by adding any of those to your existing mic collection.


Lawson L47MP? The variable pattern allows some nice tweaking of the response, and it's nicely present without biting.
--
ha

Offline wwittman

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2005, 10:14:35 pm »
I also am a big fan of the Gefells.

The UM92 is defintiely in your price range and the UM900 (which is an INCREDIBLE mic) might be if you find someone with aggressive pricing.
William Wittman
Producer/Engineer
(Cyndi Lauper, Joan Osborne, The Fixx, The Outfield, Hooters...)

Offline DAWgEAR

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2005, 06:33:41 pm »
Doublehelix,
Evidently you preferred the U87, but can you offer your thoughts on how it compared to the Kiwi? TIA.

Offline James Duncan

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #17 on: March 27, 2005, 08:54:52 am »
I actually ended up buying the U87 yesterday, and I am pretty happy with my decision, but obviously need some time to really put it through its paces over the next month or two.

My thought process was that this is a mic I should have in the mic cabinet, and then I can add more flavors later.

@DAWgEAR: As it turned out, I was unable to A/B the U87 vs. the Kiwi...When I showed up for my mic shootout, they no longer had one in stock (I can't believe they sold it when they knew I wanted to check it out!!! Hehe... Wink ). I would have really loved to have compared it.

As I said earlier, I am really limited in my ability to audition mics here in Indy. Another reason I decided to go with the U87... versatile, solid performer, even if it is not the most esoteric.

The U87 sounded very full and lush, and was something that sounded great to my ears the instant we plugged it in.

I think at this price point, a lot of the decision is down to personal choice, and without the option to audition all of the candidates, the U87 was the "safe" choice.
James Duncan

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Offline hargerst

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #18 on: March 27, 2005, 10:54:45 am »
Doublehelix wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 07:54

I actually ended up buying the U87 yesterday, and I am pretty happy with my decision, but obviously need some time to really put it through its paces over the next month or two.


First, it's a safe choice that will bring in business, and second, it will hold its value for a long time.  I think you made the best possible decision.
Harvey "Is that the right note?" Gerst
Indian Trail Recording Studio

Offline James Duncan

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #19 on: March 28, 2005, 07:07:50 am »
hargerst wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 10:54

Doublehelix wrote on Sun, 27 March 2005 07:54

I actually ended up buying the U87 yesterday, and I am pretty happy with my decision, but obviously need some time to really put it through its paces over the next month or two.


First, it's a safe choice that will bring in business, and second, it will hold its value for a long time.  I think you made the best possible decision.



Thanks for that Harvey, I am sure that in another year or two, I'll be Jones'ing for something else to add to the arsenal. Smile
James Duncan

"Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake."
Napoleon Bonaparte

Offline brandondrury

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2005, 11:43:06 pm »
The resell value thing is an often overlooked aspect of any music gear when price is an issue (when is it not?).  It's easy to sell a big name on Ebay and get prime dollar for it.

Take a look at API.  Search for it on Ebay.  You will find that 80% of the items are not API items at all, but some other brand trying to get a little API traffic for that name.  At least with Neumann, or Marshall (guitar amps) your search results will actually be mostly the brand you actually looking for.

Of course, on the other hand, you may be able to snag a used Soundelux, Gefell, etc mega cheaply just because the name isn't all that big.

Brandon

Offline jburn34

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2005, 10:56:51 pm »
I've got a U87 (an older one) but I have a Lawson L47MP that I end up using a good bit more.  It has enough of the "tube" smoothness but still retains its clarity...especially through something like an Avalon.  I think Gene has a 10 return policy...you should try it out.

Never mind...I just noticed that you got an 87... Razz
Jeremy

JB Sound - Recording Gear, Tips, and Reviews

Namesake Recording - Mobile, Live, & Studio Recording

Offline RickRhino

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #22 on: May 18, 2005, 01:21:14 pm »
I was in the same situaton as doublehelix,
I loved the Manley Reference tube mic
but to attract new clints and to have more versitile mic
I went with the U87Ai
I also was getting work from other studios
which were using U87 as their main vocal mic
so over dubbing was not to bad to match
Til this day I really want that Manley mic
best mic for vocals to my ears

mis dos centavos

Rick Rhino
engineer/producer
Chicago,IL
rickrhino@sbcglobal.net

Offline K-MO

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Re: $2,500 Vocal Mic
« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2005, 11:25:29 pm »
Just thought I would ask - have you considered any used mics? I own several mics and my go to is always a C12 VR.

I own a new one and a used one both are fantastic on everything from vocals to drums.

I haven't used the same mic pre as you but I have used many pres: Voxbox, Vintech 1073 , all Avalon 2022 - M5 - 737 and even the standard Focusrite pre's found on the CNTRL 24.

I bought the used one for 2300USD so it's in your range.

Perhaps someone else has some experience with it too, or a local dealer  (that's not the best way to test a mic)

Maybe you can rent one for a day and use it in your room with your gear.

Hope this helps a little.

Kenny   www.nuvintage.biz